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Bobcat Prey Preference Project

Expanding our understanding of Bobcat prey preference in proximity to the urban fringe in Southern California

 
 
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Bobcats are an important indicator species for connectivity of highly fragmented landscapes,but their roll in food webs of highly altered ecosystems have received little attention.

Human-caused disturbance can alter species interactions and can be detrimental for multiple species in an ecosystem. As apex predators, bobcats can influence prey species; such changes at one trophic level can affect others and destabilize food-webs, and substantially alter the ecosystem and its occupants.

This study aims to address questions on top-down and bottom-up causes of bobcat population decline. We are working to establish methods by which to monitor temporal and spatial variations in prey preference in other apex predators, a trophic layer that is collectively exhibiting population decline in the United States in general, and in Southern California in particular.

 

 Dr. Erin Boydston (USGS) and associates sample a sedated bobcat in Orange County, CA

Dr. Erin Boydston (USGS) and associates sample a sedated bobcat in Orange County, CA

US Geological Survey

As cities and highways expand to support growing communities, USGS scientists are studying wildlife ecology to inform conservation efforts. Dr. Erin Boydston collaborates with the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others to study the behaviors and disease ecology of bobcats and other carnivores in southern California

 

 Sampling captive bobcats to better understand isotope fractionation in felids

Sampling captive bobcats to better understand isotope fractionation in felids

Stable Isotope Analysis

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis (SIA) of animal tissues offers a method whereby animal foraging can be elucidated over variable scales- SIA can provide a wide range of spatial and temporal data on bobcat prey preference during the drought and with respect to proximity to the urban edge

 Using ArcGIS to analyze bobcat prey preference in space and time

Using ArcGIS to analyze bobcat prey preference in space and time

Spatial Analysis

Geographic Information System (GIS) is a powerful tool that lets us visualize, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships between climate and trends in bobcat prey preference